Ethics and Values Minor
What does it mean to minor in Ethics and Values?
No matter what your primary field of study and no matter what your career goals, you will benefit from a study of ethics from both theoretical and practical perspectives. This minor, offered from the Department of Philosophy and Religion, teaches students to understand the ultimate principles that guide ethical thinking and action, and also trains them to engage in independent ethical reasoning and to grasp responsibilities in many different areas of life. Such ethical skills are in high demand: not only is your personal reputation a key factor of success, but employer surveys consistently show that values such as integrity, honest communication, respect, and confidentiality are considered to be crucial for the proper functioning of any organization or company.
The minor in ethics and values consists of 6 courses from the list below, of which 4 must be at the 300 level or above.
- Phil 101: Introduction to Philosophy
- Phil 102: Introduction to Professional Ethics
- Phil 104: Contemporary Moral Issues
- Phil 204: Intro to Ethical Policy Debate
- Phil 308/Rel 308: Buddhism
- Phil 320: Aesthetics
- Phil 321: Ethical Theory
- Phil 328/Rel 328: Biomedical Ethics
- Phil 331: Political Philosophy
- Phil 344: Moral Psychology
- Phil 345: Environmental Ethics
- Phil 347: Advanced Ethical Policy Debate
- Phil 349/Rel 349: Religious Ethics: Issues and Methods
- Phil 350: Philosophy of Law
- Phil 352: Care Ethics
- Phil 353: Consequentialism
- Phil 355: Philosophy of Film
- Phil 357: Business Ethics
- Phil 372: Conservative Political Philosophy
- Phil 390: Feminist Philosophy
- Phil 421: Seminar in Ethical Philosophy
- Phil 431: Seminar in Legal/Political Philosophy
- Phil 591: Advanced Seminar in Value Theory
Why is UM a good place to study ethics?
The Department of Philosophy & Religion has numerous faculty with expertise in ethics, including a privately funded position by a distinguished alumnus with extensive business experience who saw the need for enhancing ethical training among young people — the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hume Bryant Lectureship in Ethics.
In partnership with the UM Medical Center in Jackson, the department administers the Frate Fellowship in Bioethics, allowing students to confront ethical challenges in a real world hospital setting while working with nurses, doctors, and medical administrators.
Faculty-led Study USA course on Environmental Ethics addresses topics of climate change, animal rights, genetically modified organisms, population control, global development, and local environmental initiatives. One week is spent on campus getting an introduction to core principles and theories in environmental philosophy. The second week is spent in Washington D.C. area meeting face-to-face with policy experts, issue advocates, industry representatives, and political advisors to discuss a wide array of environmental policy issues.
The department hosts the UM Ethics Bowl team, which prepares students to explore public policy challenges in a format that prioritizes deliberative, informed, and civil conversation. Last season, the UM team of seven students became the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions and qualified to be one of the 36 teams competing at the National Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl.
Finally, the department hosts a series of events called the “Dialogue Initiative.” Our faculty have long trained students how to approach, analyze, and discuss the most contentious issues ranging from questions of personal religious belief to ethical practice and living to social policy implementation. Many alumni from our department have applied these skills in unique ways to various areas of specialization, and we see them as a unique resource for our current students and the community. Dialogue Initiative events are designed to bring together faculty, students, and alumni together to engage in civil conversations about these difficult issues.
Deborah Mower, Associate Professor of Philosophy and the Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Hume Bryant Lectureship in Ethics
Dr. Mower earned her B.A. in Philosophy from Pacific University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She is a research member of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, and is past president of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum.
“I specialize in moral psychology, applied ethics and public policy, and moral education. I have special interests in how moral education (in particular) and a liberal arts general education (more broadly) contribute to the development of moral sensitivity and civility, which I think are each essential for citizens in their private lives and a well-functioning democracy. Because of these interests, I mine literature from psychology and philosophy (Eastern, Western, and cross-cultural) for insights on the teaching of ethics, the development of character, the nature of public discourse, moral conviction, and the navigation of disagreement.”
Since joining the UM faculty in 2016, Dr. Mower expanded the ethics course offerings in the Department of Philosophy and Religion, and championed the teaching of ethics across campus. As a member of the UM General Education Committee, she chairs the Subcommittee on the Ethical Reasoning and Ethical Responsibility competency for all students on our campus. She also is the faculty advisor for the successful UM Ethics Bowl team.
Why study Ethics and Values? “There is no action we take or decision we make that does not involve an ethical issue. Studying ethics is valuable to help us make better decisions and actions in our personal lives, and is just as important to study to help students prepare for their professional careers. Nearly all important decisions in one’s professional life involve making tough calls about complex ethical questions involving oneself, colleagues, institutional loyalties, care for and obligations to patients or clients, and obligations to the broader society or world. Students who study ethics gain valuable conceptual tools to help them navigate these difficult cases.
“The Ethics and Values Minor has many course offerings that provide students the opportunity to study concepts and theories as conceptual tools as well as more focused courses for specific topics or degree fields where students delve into the details of some challenges they will face as future professionals. Gaining a minor in Ethics and Values sends an important message to graduate programs or future employers that students are well prepared for their chosen career. Perhaps most importantly, students feel better equipped to face ethical dilemmas and to serve as ethical leaders in both their personal and professional lives.”